Should Israel's Mossad Accept Donations From Jewish Millionaires?

On the line with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesman.

Moti Milrod

Hello to the prime minister’s spokesman, Boaz Stembler. Nir Gontarz here. Thanks for getting back to me.

Are you recording and everything?

Always.

Do we do a test first, like on the radio?

Why are you messing with me?

Why are you allowed to record but I’m not allowed to mess around?

Bottom line: I record, transcribe and publish. In exchange, you can mess with me. Fair enough.

Shoot.

I was looking for you, because you are also the spokesman for the Mossad. And there has been a report that a businessman donated six million shekels [$1,550,000] to the agency. I’m trying to understand why the Mossad needs a donation from an external source – and from a foreign businessman, on top of everything.

The Mossad, like the other government institutions, and the Israel Defense Forces, has received all the necessary authorization for accepting the donation.

I don’t doubt that it’s legal.

If you want to know why it was authorized, that’s a different question. There are no concealed motives here. If someone donates six million shekels to the Mossad, the Mossad will obviously not carry out any activity on his behalf If that’s what you’re getting at.

The current head of the Mossad [Tamir Pardo] holds shares in a private company. He’s also a businessman. You know that, right?

Yes.

Then, as a private businessman, the head of the Mossad wants to make money and to network, and, after all, this company does business internationally. My question is whether he knows the donor, or will get to know him in the wake of the contribution.

You mean: Does the head of the Mossad know the businessman?

Yes.

I have no idea.

So here’s what I say: I say that I’m looking for someone who can answer all the questions.

Are you trying to cast aspersions on the head of the Mossad? You yourself said you know that all the authorization was received. All the legal advisers

I’m only asking. Trying to find out. By the way, the natural-gas deal will also approved legally. That doesn’t mean it’s in good order.

The gas deal is in good order and is also very important for the Israeli economy.

Fine, we’re divided on that point.

That’s obvious. You work for Haaretz. It’s obvious.

Funny. You’re provoking me into publishing this conversation.

You’ll publish it in any case, no?

If it’s interesting, then yes, obviously.

Ah, I see. There’s something else that it’s important for me to clarify.

Well?

Contrary to what Channel 2 News tried to hint, the prime minister didn’t know the first thing about this donation – I don’t know if the head of the Mossad knows him or not. Okay?

Okay.

So this guy, a warm Jew from Canada, wants to do a favor and donates six million shekels to the Mossad. Let me ask you a different question: Why is it all right for businessmen to donate to the naval commandos and other units, but not to the Mossad?

And maybe that’s not all right, either. But you’re right. It’s very similar. But the Mossad operates abroad.

Maybe someone should stand up and say: Okay, guys, let’s stop this custom of donating to [Israel’s] security organizations, and then everyone will stop doing it. But once the legal advisers authorize it, and it’s not an infringement of the law, then I don’t see a problem.

I see. If we’re already on the line, tell me, what’s the story with your successor, Ran Baratz [selected by Netanyahu to be the new head of Israel’s National Public Diplomacy Directorate]? Is he going to get the job or not?

Ha, ha, ha.

Why are you laughing?

He’s not meant to succeed me, he’s meant to be above me.

Okay.

Um I have no idea. I’ll tell you the truth. I don’t ask the prime minister every day, “Well, when are you bringing him in?” Because in the meantime, I’m enjoying doing this job as the acting communications director I don’t know. I don’t have a good answer. He hasn’t told me that he’s dropped the appointment

So maybe we’ll issue a call for you to be left in the job? You’re not bad at it, and you enjoy it, too.

You’re the greatest.

You’re making fun again.

Yes. Wait a minute – are you going to publish this?

I don’t know. You are barely going with the flow here. What do you say?

I’ll try next time. Come on, give me something sexy, that I can

‘Bro, if you really want, I’ll publish it.

No No It’s such an important organization. Why hurt it?

The Mossad?

Yes.

But the questions are legitimate – you undoubtedly agree with me.

Alright. Perfectly legitimate. I’m in favor of a free press, you know.

I think that what you just said is the reason the prime minister doesn’t want you to do your job permanently.

Oh, I don’t think so. I don’t think so. What, about a free press? No He knows my views. He also knows that I came from the press.

Well, that’s what I’m saying. He knows your views and doesn’t want you.

No But don’t publish this. You’re just getting me into trouble here.

I publish everything – you know that.

Okay, so I’m telling you here that the prime minister is also in favor of a free press.

Alright. I accept that you say that.

The fact is that he wants competition in the communications market.

What competition? There’s never before been a prime minister here who controlled the communications market like this one.

What does he control? He’s bashed by the media every day.

When was the last time the prime minister gave an interview to an Israeli media outlet?

Yesterday evening.

To whom?

The prime minister briefed all the correspondents then.

I’m talking about a real interview.

He answered questions – as on every trip abroad, by the way.

Alright.

Ask [Haaretz correspondent] Barak Ravid. I get feedback from the journalists about this openness.

Now you’ve got me confused.

Ask Barak Ravid if there’s been a change in the prime minister’s approach. Ask him.

You say there’s been a change. I’m happy to hear it. Okay, Boaz, tell me, is your title still “prime minister’s spokesman”?

Yes.

Terrific.

Yallah, bye.

Bye.